OXFORD, Miss. - Tennessee's men's tennis team was defeated by No. 2-ranked Ole Miss 5-2 Friday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
With the loss, the No. 27-ranked Volunteers drop to 8-4 (1-2 SEC) on the season.
"Today we played well to win the doubles point," Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt said. "We came out with good intensity, and I thought we were going to be able to take that into singles competition and win the match. But give credit to Ole Miss. They played well. The highlight for us was Kiril Tcherveniachki's singles victory."
It took the Tennessee tandem of Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers five matches, but the freshmen finally netted their first win together Friday, defeating the Rebel team of Fredrik Aarum and Juan Pablo Di Cesare 8-1 at the No. 3 doubles position. Moments later, Vols Simon Rea and Damien Spizzo defeated the No. 25-ranked team of Paul Ciorascu and Catalin Gard at the No. 1 spot to clinch the doubles point for UT.
Tennessee's 10th doubles point of the season gave the Volunteers a 1-0 advantage heading into singles competition.
That lead was short-lived however, as the SEC Western Division leader Rebels rattled off four consecutive singles victories to guarantee a win on their home courts. Freshman Eric Claesson struck first for the Rebels, ousting Rogers in straight sets at the No. 6 position. With the team score knotted at 1-1, three ranked Rebels notched wins at Nos. 1 through 3. Gard, the nation's No. 14-ranked singles player, handed UT senior Simon Rea a rare straight-set loss at the No. 1 slot. Ciorascu, ranked No. 96, and Claes Lindholm, ranked No. 32, dispatched Damien Spizzo and Ockie Oosthuizen, respectively.
The Vols got their second point of the afternoon when crafty freshman Kiril Tcherveniachki edged Ole Miss sophomore Juan Pablo Di Cesare 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 singles. Tcherveniachki has quietly built an impressive overall singles record of 11-3 this season, giving him a team-best winning percentage of .786.
In the final match of the day, Tennessee junior Mark Dietrich fell to Aarum by a score of 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Dietrich is now 4-2 since returning from a broken right leg suffered last September. He is 5-1 in three-set matches this season.
With Friday's win, Ole Miss improved to 13-1 (4-0 SEC) on the year, marking the program's best start since 1997.
The Vols faced No. 29-ranked Mississippi State on Sunday but results were unavailable at presstime.